Review: Poker Face adds another string to Rian Johnson's bow

Review: Poker Face adds another string to Rian Johnson's bow ...

The Peacock original Poker Face, infused with Jim Jarmusch's passion and Quentin Tarantino's, may prove to be another home run for prolific writer and director Rian Johnson.

Natasha Lyonne (Russan Doll) plays reformed card shark Charlie Cale, who is an essential part of this anthology hybrid, which effortlessly combines quirky character studies with murder mystery lines as our anti-hero is pursued across America.

Poker Face, a free-range takeover from the shambles-looped detective series, establishes the circumstances and names those responsible from the start, before revealing how Charlie functions in a flashback. This allows Adrien Brody (Chapelwaite) to flesh out casino owner Sterling Frost Jr. in a glorious first episode.

Johnson revels in revealing how all of the puzzle pieces come together. Dascha Polanco (Samaritan) plays Charlie's best friend Natalie, who starts the ball rolling by stumble on something which might jeopardize the Frost casino, which Sterling manages for his overbearing father.

Following Natalie's disappearance, Charlie's instinct to recognize when someone is lying gets alerted. What follows among the mayhem of dead bodies and high-rise suicides, amounts to an opener which sees Ms. Cale speed away from the scene as police officers rush to investigate.

Johnson clearly has a love of detective dramas beyond his celebrated Knives Out films, as well as subtle hints at homage through the inclusion of Pulp Fiction footage. Even if the visual aesthetic of Poker Face may be dated.

Charlie goes beyond the disorganized persona that Lyonne has employed many times before, as this character really evolves. Poker Face is a perfect match; the formula itself and the show may easily run multiple seasons.

The performance of Lyonne is shockingly deft from the start. Charlie slowly transforms into a contemporary detective, only ever moments away from being caught. With the shadow of Frost Sr. lingering on her every move, Poker Face maintains an internal momentum.

Brody gives another excellent performance as Sterling Frost Jr, which shows off his Oscar-winning ability. Both as a confidant to Charlie in that opening scene as well as as an affluent turncoat shortly before the finale, Poker Face owes much to his presence in this pivotal role.

Hong Chau makes a memorable impression as long-distance truck driver Marg after a firearms encounter, before hurling it out of town when he discovers a dead body. Down the road, Lil Rel Howery imbues BBQ businessman Taffy Boyle with a silver-tongued tone of phrase as he fights to protect everything he holds dear.

When Charlie enters town, this pint-sized businessman slips into a rut, wearing Armani spectacles and the soft tones of a small-town disc jockey. Cale decides to stay around and help out, not only by transforming this character into an "everywoman" in the eyes of viewers, but also by instilling humanity beneath the cocky facade.

All of these elements make up a show that once again demonstrates Johnson's storytelling ability, which again demonstrates her uniqueness in this Peacock original, which showcases Lyonne and finally gives her a character who hits all the appropriate notes.